Maine Forest Service suspends online burn permits due to abnormally dry conditions

Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 3:00 PM EDT
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The Maine Forest Service is suspending online burn permits until further notice due to the increased wildfire risk and recent amount of fires that have broken out.

The Forest Service is also urging local fire chiefs to either suspend written burn permits or use extreme caution if they do.

Mainers will not be allowed to burn brush or wood debris unless they get a permit from their local fire department.

Campfires are still allowed on personal property, although officials urge Mainers to be extremely careful if they have one.

As of Monday, Rangers reported 663 wildfires in 2020, burning 847 acres. That is the second-highest total fire count in the last 10 years, and the season is just beginning. Rangers said the number of wildfires caused by campfires is up 170% compared to last year.

The Maine Forest Service also announced Monday that a 28-year-old man has been charged with illegal disposal of lighted material and igniting the Island Falls wildfire that torched the slope of Robinson/May Mountain and nearby wildlands earlier this month.

That fire burned nearly 240 acres before it was contained. The total estimated cost associated with fighting the fire exceeds $100,000.

"Arid conditions and high winds combined to set the table for this dangerous wildfire," said Bill Hamilton, MFS chief ranger. "With continued dry weather, we need everyone to be vigilant and not engage in activities that spark wildfires."

Maine has seen well below-normal rainfall since the middle of May.